Key messages

  • A clinical coder works in health information management classifying health data into standard codes to allow for easy storage, retrieval and analysis.
  • The Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) is the professional body that promotes and supports health information management professionals.

Working in clinical classification

A clinical coder works in health information management classifying health data into standard codes to allow for easy storage, retrieval and analysis.

Professional affiliations

The Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) is the professional body that promotes and supports health information management professionals, including clinical coders, as the universally recognised specialists in information management at all levels of the healthcare system. They do this through: positioning and advocacy; accreditation; education and training; certification and credentialling; quality standards; publications and resources; and HIMAA membership networking activities at the local and national levels, including an annual national conference of international standing and a Victorian branch.

The Victorian Coding Special Interest Group was established by clinical coding specialists in Victoria as a networking and professional support group for the sector.

References

Entry-level clinical coding competency

In 2013 the then Department of Health (Victoria) sponsored work to be undertaken to identify the competencies required of an entry-level clinical coder. This work was later used to inform development of the Certificate IV in Clinical Classification as a new training pathway into work as a clinical coder.

Entry-level clinical coding competency guidelines

The Victorian Coding Special Interest Group has produced a guide for clinical coding educators on the minimum topics and standards that should be covered in any curriculum based on expectations from the Victorian health sector on minimum competencies of an entry-level clinical coder.

Victorian ICD Coding Committee

The Victorian ICD Coding Committee (VICC) is chaired by a departmental health information manager and comprises qualified coders selected by the department. Meetings are held monthly and Victorian coders can submit coding queries via the online query form. A query database provides access to submitted queries and their responses.

Training pathways

The following are the predominant training pathways into clinical coding work in Victoria.

Certificate IV in Health Classification

The 22274VIC Certificate IV in Clinical Classification has been accredited by the Victorian Registrations and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2019.

The curriculum is publicly available from the Training Support Network website and is also listed on the National Register.

The Certificate IV in Clinical Classification is an entry-level course that develops the skills and knowledge to translate descriptions of medical diagnoses and procedures into codes, which are recorded as health data. Entry-level clinical coders are responsible for the coding of moderately complex medical records and the current pathway to coding complex records is through on-the-job experience.

Associate Degree in Health Sciences (Health Information Management)

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) offers a two-year Associate Degree in Health Sciences (Health Information Management), with the health information management stream focusing on how to use health information data and technology relating to health classification and clinical coding to enhance patient outcomes.

Bachelor of Health Science (Medical Classification)/Bachelor of Health Information Management

La Trobe University offers a four-year double degree that produces graduates with expertise to work in the field of health information management. Graduates develop the skills to analyse and manage health information and systems throughout the healthcare sector. Students gain competencies for profession-entry level in the four areas of medical/clinical classification, health information management (includes hands-on, supervised professional practice in hospitals and other organisations), health informatics and e-health, and in analysis and management of health data.

La Trobe also offers an early exit option after three years with a Bachelor of Health Science (Medical Classification). This single degree provides base-level medical/clinical coder competencies, equipping graduates to work in mid-size hospitals and health centres throughout Australasia.

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